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Love is . . .

Love isn’t the brassy blare of a band, marching down the avenue on July 4th’s celebration. Oh, to be sure – that is part of it – loud jangles, crash of cymbals, heartbeat of drums. But love has many faces, some apparent, some quite deceptive.

Love is the gentle stirrings evoked by a walk after a thunderstorm’s power, smelling the earth, watching lightening flitter over the New York skyline, curled up on a rock, and telling each other of your pasts, and peoples – speaking in reverence and caring tones.

Love is the sharp pain of betrayal and the shooting stabs of hurt inflicted upon sensitive, fragile egos that make one near in anger and rage – defending yourself at risk of rejection – yet believing, nonetheless, first in your own sense of worth.  Being able to say “fuck you” to the one you love.

Love is the despair and confusion and insecurity brought forth in opening yourself up to another person.  Of being aware of his frailties and still wanting him more than ever – because of those faults not in spite of them. Of seeing the flaws yet not running away.  Of opening yourself , baring your soul when trust is just a mirage, still to become real from knowing your love, facing it and not walking away, and of having to tell that other person that love is there – whether or not he chooses to respond in kind.  Of wanting so much to hear the words “I Love You”, yet not pressing but allowing them to come of their on accord at a time of his choosing – if at all.

Love is passion and the exploration of a body found wildly exciting – seeking those hidden sources of pleasure, being sexually vulnerable.  And love is those quiet ripples that float through your body as you see the one you love or think of him during the course of your day.  Love is giving and taking- together or apart – the stillness of soul touching – the fire of lust, the knowledge that this is something different than any before or any after, but that a part of you, larger than ever before, rests in the hands of another, and you are content, or largely so, to have it that way.  Love is a gift from God to be savored, enjoyed revered, for each moment it is a part of you.

Love is encouraging the strengths in the other, urging him to grow and explore facets of himself.  Being a source of strength rather than drowning him in your need.  Love is knowing the relationship may end yet moving forward in self-determination, with trust and belief gathering your courage about you, a mantle of strength in the storm of emotion.  Love is knowing that love may change in form and substance, devolving into a well of despair, fragmenting, feathering away into a manifestation of a different making – yet Love still.  Love is holding still the trembling of the soul.

Love is the bringing into the world two children to bless this union. Children precious, deserving of all that is good.  Physical manifestations of love and passion.  Children who bear witness of good and ill. Who bear the scars of devastation.

Love is the torture of knowing your love was always far greater than his. Of sustaining emotional scars, physical bondage, inquisitions, blasphemies, of running and hiding to escape his wrath. Of finally, running away, knowing not to do so would mean your death, be it emotional or physical.

Love is the PTSD moments after the Fall. Twenty years later.  The choosing aloneness rather than taking the risk of opening yourself up again.  Of the nightmares that continue, again and again, of what it turned out to be.  Of the ending, cruel, painful, devastating in consequences not just for the two of you, but for the children brought forth from the union of those souls.  Of the never ending trauma that follows in your wake, curling in sadness and despair deep within.

Sifting through the Ashes

So many years since my parents have died and yet they walk through my life day by day, hour by hour.  Is this so for everyone? Sifting through our ashes, seeing the truths or remolding childhood witnessing into more truthful adult understandings. . . or should they be upended?  Aren’t my life experiences as a child as equal, or more so, than their adult counterparts?

Isn’t the fact my father and I played a game where he blew his pipe smoke in my face because it  made me exclaim for him to stop but we both laughed just as valid as my understanding that it was the underpinnings of my attraction and addiction to tobacco, and later COPD and asthma?  Or my coming in drunk from some beer bash and sitting up with him for hours talking about the world, the universe, my present, later to realize he had been drinking too and it was a tactic acknowledgement of drinking as acceptable, even essential?  Just as Christmas brings misgivings driven both my the year we snuck downstairs to see an entire kitchen and bikes our size as well as the one when Dad knocked over the Tree in a fit of alcohol fumes?

As an adult, I moved back to Connecticut, staying in my mother’s room while looking for a home of my own. Within those walls, Mom and I made peace with each other.  I finally felt her life, what made her, why she was such an angry person much of the time, overwhelmingly generous at others.  I understood why she was angry with me, frustrated at my weaknesses, as she co-dependently made right my many, many mistakes. I forgave her transgressions. And felt her presence at the foot of the bed and with the Shirley Temple collection, the first dolls she ever owned.

Yet these two people gave us such treasures.  As a Minister’s family, we moved frequently, as my Mom did, from one Brooklyn apartment to another when the rent ran out.  So when Mom saw a tiny ad for a 250 year cabin on 50 acres a 17 hour trip away, she bought it sight unseen  so we would, no matter how many times we had to move.

Every summer she would take off work, bringing us up to our spiritual center for 2 months, Father joining us under his vacation. Now I look back to see how hard she worked on the cabin, making it safe and livable for us.  Understand, as a mother myself, the frustration she would sometimes feel as a single mom for such a long time.  Laugh at when she sent my wayward brother to the garden to remove rocks when he did, frequently, something outrageous.

Memories fill the furniture in my apartment.  A teacart given from a barn in exchange for a loaf of bread, now well over 150 years old. The carved, wooden screen behind it, a much beloved piece from my grandmother.  My “distressed” childhood dresser and toddler rocker. The cut glass pieces my mother so dearly collected in a beautiful collection. The painting of “Uncle Willie”, an old hermit who closed off his beautifully furnished  home, save the kitchen, when his wife died; we picked cherries from his trees, mom making pies, jams, and bringing them to him.

My adult eyes stare into the inward memories of my brain to remember. In some places there are causes for anger displaced.  In order, wry comprehension.  In others humble gratitude.  They were not perfect people but they were good ones, who moved beyond the strictures of their memories and life experiences to give us so many precious ones.

Mindfulness in the Holidays

The holidays are here . . . there is hope, my friends, hope to enjoy the memories being created, hope to share in joy and thanksgiving, hope to walk away with a smile instead of trying to shake off negative thoughts and feelings. For many of us, the holidays bring stress, anxiety, perhaps anger.  But, in times like those, it is good to remember . . .

The tingling of a stream running through a forest                 A cozy fire to warm up our increasingly older bones                 A blanket which feels cozy and secure                 The passion in the eyes of a lover, even if it was many years ago                 How the Grinch stole Christmas and Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer Those are just a few things to reflect on when life seems interminable, frustrating, depressing.  There are people who can offer comfort. Or, wait for it . . . you can give comfort to others and to yourself.  There is positivity to offer renewal – of our associations with others and our relationship with ourselves.  This is especially true for those of us with thought disturbances and/or mental and emotional ones.  When you are sitting at a table with more than 5 people, just remember you aren’t the only one – 1 in 5 people have some sort of mental/addiction/biochemical challenge – you are likely not as alone as you may think.

When you yearn to change your thoughts, move a muscle:

Volunteer or share the meal at a Shelter or Food Kitchen Exercise – max out those endorphins Watch some of the old charmers – Bells of Saint Mary, Christmas Carol, Christmas in CT . . . Call someone who understands and remember crisis centers if need be Calmly but clearly express your feelings, share those feelings where it matters Go to the Religious organization of your choosing and practice the traditions you grew up with

Don’t be afraid to leave the holiday gathering – go in another room to compose yourself, go for a walk, smile (just using those muscles changes your mood, even just a little). Feel the love you have for your friends and family, even when they disappoint you, you’re not the only person who can benefit from a hug.

Most of all, remember the meaning of the holidays . . . religious/spiritual, loving, sharing, giving of oneself to others.  Remember . . . whatever your circumstances, you are Blessed.

Listen to your Momma

He took the boy child’s face
between strong hands,
ones rough from painting walls,
pounding fence posts . . .
man hands – nothing soft about them.

“Boy, don’t ever treat women with disrespect,
but never, ever treat your Momma
that way.  She carried you,
gave you life, bore those labor pains
so you could live . . .

Listen to your Momma, and your Sister,
so when you grow older
women will love you
because you hear what they say
and understand.

He didn’t know if he deserved those words –
for they were words that
had never crossed his father’s lips,
and couldn’t be sure he deserved.

Even yet, the boy stored the words
inside his young heart.
And though he made mistakes here and there,
he became a man of shining example.

.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

My Grinch is coming out.  Thanksgiving was when my Mother was alive and put out a huge spread which she would always take a picture of.  Thanksgiving is now the time everyone seems to gear up for Black Friday – except for us poor folk.  I’m lucky if I can do a little Cyber Monday but not much.  These times they have been changing.  I feel like Albert in Miracle on 42nd Street – “Who put the commercialism into Christmas?” Although now it starts before Halloween. How can you be thankful when you can’t keep the Holidays in linear alignment?

My family always treats the Holidays with great stress.  Who should go where – what to bring – Should we try to force ourselves into uncomfortable gatherings?  There is so much stress, you can’t find it in you to give from your heart.  You stand, feet moving back and forth, shuffling to find an easier position.  Your Holiday contribution to the meal lies untouched, except by you, the only one to eat it.  And worse, it was a staple on Mom’s Thanksgiving table – Heresy!!

Gratitude?  To either be with persons you don’t really want to be with or be sequestered within the walls of your empty home.  Honestly, the fact that we have a home is an amazing thing to be grateful for.  And if not your own home, than a shelter or another person who offers you a bed in which to sleep.

Disgruntled by what you have to bring or that no one appreciates it, or that you have to go to a Community Meal?  Let us get down on our knees and be grateful we have access to nourishing food.  Think of the refugees, those in Aleppo or other sites across the world that have no food, water, shelter.  And those within our own community, particularly the elderly and children.

So many of us struggle with the holidays, particularly so because of our disease.  Most of our friends and relatives simply don’t understand why we are so uncomfortable, withdrawn or manic.  Why can’t we be better?  We can’t, that’s why.  We are doing the best we can.  Just realize they struggle with our illness too.  They might really want to relate better with us but don’t know how.  If we need to, we can gently explain it to them.

But there are real and valid reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.  We do get help.  We can get services to assist us even if persistence is necessary to obtain them.  Our support groups can help.  Even if we are hanging in by the skin of our teeth, there are crisis centers to call, ministers to talk to, friends or neighbors to talk to.  We can keep to our traditions.  Watch all those sappy movies that have little to do with real life. Do things for others.  Pray for guidance and understanding. Smile as much as we can because the act itself, even if forced, realigns your face and emotions. Finally,  realize that it is only a month and a week before it is over.

 

 

Amongst the Redwoods

AMONGST THE REDWOODS

Redwoods, massive trees
largest in the world
living their lives in special ecologies
Redwoods lush, moist, raindrops glisten
about me as I make my way through the ferns
loamy and scented in richness of pine.
Muir Woods, walking Cathedral
a path winding through redwoods
and a glistening stream,
protecting trees from the damages
too easily caused by humans.
Languages of many lands surround me
leaving a stillness caused by
incomprehension. Once spread
through Northern California’s coastlines
to be deforested as humans
required wood for housing –
monuments born before Jesus’ time.
If I could choose where to live,
it would be in that house
cossetted among the trees,
protected for eternity.

https://dbkerr.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/th9.jpg?w=88&h=88&crop=1

Maintaining a Presence in the Blogosphere

 

Emptiness, an unfathomably deep hole where all creativity falls…
Sometimes participating in the bloggo sphere takes so much of my time there is
no space for writing. And because of my brain trauma, sometimes there just ain’t nothin’ ‘dere mates.

Once I received a comment saying the person used to come all the time to read my words but there just hadn’t been any for a while and he/she was disappointed. I panicked. What can I say? Do I pull something from the past? Do I have any creativity left? I don’t want to waste anyone’s time reading what doesn’t have value.

Plus, I have a life that extends beyond my writing. I mean, where does my writing come from? …..my life. Even though my family doesn’t generally read my writings, I am leery of sharing the stories which we are all in. And there are plenty… Although I can write this – what do you do with a cat who insists on climbing into my lap and head butting to show he loves me every time I get on the computer? Then putting his paws on the keyboard because he has something to say too. God forbid he learns how. The secrets he knows, I just don’t think are sharable.

I have been (hopefully) upgrading my blog; creating pages, trying to put archived writings in their appropriate pages. It takes a long time and I still don’t know if I’m doing it right. Please let me know if you see I am missing the mark.

Please be patient, friends of mine. This blog means so much to me. But connecting to your blogs and reading what your heads and hearts produce means a great deal as well. And often I am so humbled and ashamed of what I have to offer, in comparison, that I freeze. I hope to be a blogger and reader in the bloggo sphere for a long time to come.